look for the added sugar


Why is it that every time I write about sugar, sweeteners and substitutes I have to take a deep breath before I start? It is a subject I tread lightly with because each of us has our go-to sweetener and many will defend the choice passionately.

I've successfully given up sweets and felt much better. I say successfully because I made it longer than a week. I’m not sure how long ‘giving up sweets’ lasted. I’d like to say 3 or 4 months, but I might be over-estimating.

And I've given up sweets successfully again and again and again. It was good while it lasted. However, I took one bite and then another and soon I was back to eating sweets regularly.

Not a problem since I believe the first step to success is trying. The next step is trying again.

So this week I’m looking at decreasing my “added sugar” intake by really looking at the processed foods I buy. This would have been a better idea if I’d done it BEFORE I bought my pudding snacks and found “sugar” as the third ingredient in my fat-free pudding and “maltitol” as my second ingredient in the sugar free one.

Just to give you an idea of the complexity of the issue, all of these (and some that I am sure I missed) are used as sweeteners in processed foods and beverages, and I’ll be looking for these on the label:

  • The usual suspects:

  • sugar

  • high fructose corn syrup

  • Some others:

  • agave

  • brown sugar

  • corn sweetener

  • dehydrated cane juice

  • dextrin

  • fruit juice concentrate

  • honey

  • invert sugar

  • maltodextrin

  • molasses

  • raw sugar

  • sorghum

  • treacle

  • turbinado sugar

  • Formal (-ose):

  • fructose

  • glucose

  • lactose

  • maltose

  • sucralose

  • sucrose

  • xylose

  • Syrups:

  • barley malt syrup

  • corn syrup

  • high fructose corn syrup

  • maple syrup

  • malt syrup​

  • rice syrup

  • sorghum syrup

  • Substitutes (natural and artificial):

  • aspartame

  • Equal®

  • saccharin

  • Splenda®

  • stevia

  • Sugar alcohols (-ol):

  • dulcitol

  • erythritol

  • lactitol

  • mannitol

  • maltitol

  • sorbitol

  • xylitol

Which sweetener you choose is up to you. I’m not offering any suggestions, but I believe the best choice is the one you make with knowledge and intention. Make the one that supports your goals and needs.

Also be on the look out for "added sugar" by way of additional fruit, fruit concentrate, or fruit juice.

They've added pear concentrate to this can of peaches in peach juice. It may be better than sugar or high fructose corn syrup, but is it right for you?

Look and read the label to see what's in it and then you can make the decision with knowledge and intention.

For more information on how to read a label go to the FDA's (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label.

My choice is to start eliminating processed foods that have a sweetener (any sweetener, not just sugar) in the first 3 ingredients. If I want something sweet, I can make it myself and choose all the ingredients (and be able to pronounce each one of them).

Will you decrease your added sugar intake this week?

P.S. I’ve learned a lot more about the history of honey and sugar than I ever thought I’d be interested in.

  • Honey bees are not native to North America and were imported to Virginia in 1622.

  • Sugar cane was probably first used in Polynesia and then spread to India before 500 BC. Sugar didn’t get to Europe until the 11th century.

MORE RESOURCES

Nutrition information on local foods in Hawaii: Hawai’i Foods: Nutrition with aloha

National Public Radio (NPR) story — Study: Added Sugar Increases Heart Risk

There is a reason some of us may eat more sweets than we should — we’re addicted. Intense sweetness surpasses cocaine reward abstract available on PubMed.gov

Can artificial sweeteners be part of the problem rather than an answer? Check out This Might Explain Why Diet Soda Drinkers Are Often Overweight from Huff Post Healthy Living

Check out Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD or Secrets From the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again by Traci Mann, PhD

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